Jared Matfess's Blog

Having fun with SharePoint, Office 365, and Microsoft Azure

Creating Restricted Booking Conference Rooms in Exchange Online — December 26, 2017

Creating Restricted Booking Conference Rooms in Exchange Online

I have recently been working with a client to migrate rooms & resources from Lotus Notes to Exchange Online and the topic of “restricted conference rooms” has come up quite a bit. Basically these are conference rooms that a select group of individuals have the ability to reserve – examples being an Executive Conference Room, or a conference room that a particular department owns. The main challenge with Exchange Online vs Lotus Notes is that all resources & equipment show up in the Global Address List.

Through the GUI in Exchange Online you can setup “Delegated Booking” which is essentially a workflow for reservation requests that will be routed to users you specify as part of the delegated booking process. However, you will find that in large organizations that there are some executive admins that would prefer to not receive those reservation requests and would rather the room just be locked down for only them to reserve.

There’s no easy way to do this through the user interface however there is some clever PowerShell to accomplish this. What the experience will be is when a user that users you designate having booking ability will receive accept/decline based on the room availability. Anyone else submitting a reservation request will receive an automated decline message from the room.

Let’s take an example: Conference Room: CTBerlinMainWestCRW001@matfessconsulting.com 

You’ll connect to Exchange Online from your PowerShell window and run a command called Set-CalendarProcessing against that room mailbox.

There’s 3 parameters you’ll want to include:
AutomateProcessing – basically this is saying to have the room either accept/decline the reservation if it meets other requirements. If you don’t set this to AutoAccept, the room won’t do anything when you send it a reservation request
AllBookInPolicy – this is either enabling/disabling all users to submit reservation requests to this room. For the purposes of a restricted conference room we will set this to false.
BookInPolicy – this is where you would submit a list of comma separated users that have the ability to reserve this room. This can also be a Distribution List or Mail-Enabled Security Group (recommended)

When you tie it all together, here’s the full command to make a conference room restricted:

Set-CalendarProcessing -Identity “CTBerlinMainWestCRW001” -AutomateProcessing AutoAccept -AllBookInPolicy $false -BookInPolicy “jared@matfessconsulting.com”

So there you have it – a restricted conference room! A small recommendation to improve the user experience would be to update the display name to include (RESTRICTED) so that other users know it’s restricted. Alternatively, you can always set a MailTip which would be displayed similarly to an Out of Office message prior to the user submitting the reservation request. This appears in both OWA as well as the Outlook client.


See TechNet article for additional Set-CalendarProcessing parameters:

Improving your Work/Life Balance with MyAnalytics — September 26, 2017
SharePoint Saturday Toronto Slides! — August 19, 2017

SharePoint Saturday Toronto Slides!

Wanted to thank the amazing crew of speakers, sponsors, organizers, and attendees that made SharePoint Saturday Toronto amazing. I was delighted to speak to a pretty full room about “When to use What in Office 365”.

SPS Toronto Session

For those of you who came out to my session feel free to grab the slides below:

Definitive Guide For When to use What – Matfess

Thanks again for having me, and I look forward to seeing you again next year!


SharePoint Communications Sites for your Office 365 Adoption Site — July 16, 2017

SharePoint Communications Sites for your Office 365 Adoption Site

For those of you who have been following my blog you will have noticed that the new SharePoint Communications Sites have been my new fixation. It seems that the rest of the SharePoint Community has certainly taken notice as well with webinars popping up comparing Communications Sites to Intranet in a Box solutions and some nice deep dive articles around the different webparts that come with these news sites.

I have been working on a new talk that helps navigate the challenge of when to use each of the O365 Services and in doing so I started to brainstorm what the “low hanging fruit” opportunity would be for the new SharePoint Communications Sites. Before I could take my first sip of coffee I had it – why not your Office 365 Adoption Portal! How simple right?

Excitedly I started pulling together what a nice Adoption Portal might look like.

First off – huge shout out to the WOCinTech site for providing access to beautiful stock photography.

Here’s what my portal started to look like:


Notice that not every tile needs to have an image – kudos to Susan Hanley for her great article on getting started with Communications Site.

You’ll notice a few things ->

    1. I added a “Group Spotlight” story as the main tile in the Hero Webpart. Whenever I have been involved in building out an Adoption type portal I love to try and feature real stories of people making use the technology. Nothing helps to build up confidence than hearing how your co-workers are streamlining process, eliminating waste, and ultimately being more productive.


    1. Next to that tile, I went with a very simple “Request a collaboration solution.” I know the folks at Microsoft might shudder a bit, but a lot of enterprises still make users go through a request process to match them up with the right solution for their business need. So I had envisioned this either being a request form, or maybe an infographic if your organization allows you to provision sites/groups/teams/etc.


    1. Rounding out the top row is a “Collaboration Champions Network” which could of course link you anywhere, but I though a page which would have both an embedded Yammer feed for an “Adoption Group” in addition to highlighting some of the “Collaboration Champions” you might be able to reach out to with a specific question. I definitely understand some companies might not want to name people, but it’s a great way in the beginning to start onboarding people to Office 365.
      Collaboration Champions


    1. The last tile I marked as self-service training & resources. Again lots of options here, but if an organization is mature enough this could go to an O365 Stream Group where you can let users choose from pre-recorded videos. Alternatively, if you have created lots of handouts, PPT’s, etc. you could always have them navigate to a page with a listview webpart of a document library and then links to any additional resources.


    1. Below the fold I added the News Webpart featuring a few stories of how different Office 365 services are being consumed by colleagues. Always look for those engaging photos that will get people excited about reading your article!Adoption News

      Example article:Article.jpg


  • Rounding out the site, I included some events in you guessed it, the Events webpart! Again, when Office 365 starts to roll out it’s a great practice to have your Training Group host “Brown Bag” events where employees can attend remotely. Even better, you can record those videos and host them in the new O365 Stream Groups in an Adoption Channel!Events-Webpart


When pulling together this demo site I noticed just how easy it was to build a really nice looking site. The beautiful part of SharePoint Communications Sites is by simplifying the development/configuration experience you are able to focus more of your time on building the relevant content that you wish to communicate to your users vs worrying about going through lots of effort to design & develop the styling to make your site look different than the out of the box clunkiness of SharePoint Team & Publishing Sites.

Happy SharePointing!

Boston Code Camp 2017 Re-cap — March 27, 2017

Boston Code Camp 2017 Re-cap

I had a really great time presenting “Connecting Salesforce & Office 365 using Microsoft PowerApps & Flow”. For once the demo gods were kind to me as a I demonstrated creating leads from an Excel document, and generating Salesforce Tasks that get created in a SharePoint list, etc.

For those looking for slides – you can grab them here: Microsoft Flow O365 Salesforce

I also had a really great time joining some of my fellow Microsoft MVP’s on Betsy Weber’s panel for “How to become an MVP.” All in all a great event – kudos to the organizers, volunteers, speakers, and attendees that made it happen. Hopefully I’ll have the opportunity to present again next year.

Opting out of Microsoft Office 365 changes aka off by default — March 21, 2017

Opting out of Microsoft Office 365 changes aka off by default

I love Office 365. I want to put that right out there, because I mean it. The innovation that Microsoft keeps on pumping into the service continues to raise the bar for enabling collaboration. At my last company we were years away from moving to Office 365 and now that I’m at Slalom, we’re all in! It’s fantastic!

However, I do not like how new features & functions are being introduced to organizations – and by that I mean “on by default”. Case in point, there’s been a bit of noise on Twitter for the past two days about a change rolling in that will automatically provision an O365 Group for a manager and their direct reports: https://support.office.com/en-us/article/Automatic-creation-of-Direct-Reports-groups-in-Outlook-f43455ed-81a6-4588-8299-08caa62abedd?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=UShttps://support.office.com/en-us/article/Automatic-creation-of-Direct-Reports-groups-in-Outlook-f43455ed-81a6-4588-8299-08caa62abedd?ui=en-US&rs=en-US&ad=US

Example of Twitter madness: (I blame Joanne Klein! LOL!)

On the surface that might sound like a decent idea for some organizations – take my own team for instance. When my role changed and I became a supervisor I created a private Office 365 group for my team to collaborate. However, it was a conscience decision to meet a need that I had to collaborate with my team. I’m the only supervisor in our office that has their own Office 365 Group as the others aren’t quite ready to move there yet. I am picking on groups but there has been a lot of new features that are automatically added to tenants. I will concede that there certainly is the ability with a PowerShell command to disable that feature, but is that really the best user experience?

I’m a firm believer that the real value of Office 365 is realized with planning, communications, a bit of hand holding, and then some more communications. The “on by default” certainly presents opportunities where one could get “slipped by the goalie” and then there’s the apologizing as you have to back out that change and communicate to your customers that it’s just Microsoft being Microsoft and rolling stuff out. It’s not a good user experience, it’s uncomfortable to roll back changes that organizations are not prepared to support, and it leaves a bad impression of how Microsoft is managing the service. The reality too is what’s a good idea and right timing for an organization might not be applicable to another.

I think the counter-argument to rolling in new features as off by default is that there are some corporations that will “never” turn on the new stuff. The reality is, those could very well be the same organizations that immediately turn off the new functionality already. I would also say that shame on the admin that doesn’t enable Teams in their tenant, or whatever new service gets developed over the next 6 months.

My compromise would be this – why not set your preference at the tenant level?

I did a nice little mock-up to help show where that setting might go.


Again, I’m not knocking this particular change but I do believe it’s not a one size fits all.

I think enabling administrators to set their environment in a way that best meets the needs of their organization is the best approach for introducing new change. Happy collaborating!


I submitted a user voice based on this blog post to help get the right attention: